Liz Buss, US Air Force is in uniform. She is pictured with her husband and three children.

From the Middle East to Wyoming, United Through Reading Saves Storytime

October 29, 2023

When Major Liz Buss deployed in 2022, she was looking for a way to stay in touch with her three kids at home that worked with the family’s busy schedule and would help overcome a considerable time difference between the Middle East and Wyoming. Given all the factors, Facetime or phone calls with her kids were only feasible once a week if they were lucky. Then Liz found the United Through Reading App, and it was a game changer.

“They could see me every day, which was great,” she said of her kids, who are 5, 10, and 12. ”They felt like they were getting my interaction.”

Liz’s husband, Air Force Lt. Col. Eric Buss, and her mom were in Wyoming with their children throughout the six-month deployment. They used the App at bedtime, taking turns getting the kids to bed or on their own. Liz read chapter books for her kids, recording two to three at a time. Liz made recordings from her office, her tent, and around the base, which entertained the kids to see where mom was reading from that day.

The books she read included the Ramona series by Beverly Cleary, We Dream of Space by Erin Entrada Kelly, and Nowhere Boy by Catherine Marsh. With her mom’s help, Liz chose books based on her kids’ interests and ones that would offer a bigger perspective on the world since she was halfway around the world herself.

Throughout her deployment, The United Through Reading App made it easy for Liz to record when she had a break from her busy schedule as a medical officer. The app also allowed her to record quality videos since she could use her headphones to control the background noise. She could then watch the videos to ensure they looked good before sending them to her family to enjoy.

“I feel like it was our only connection face to face. The App was good because I could do it on my own time, and that took away some of my stress. I could work weird hours and still connect with my family. It was a stress relief for all of us since we couldn’t always Facetime at the same time,” Liz said.

The feedback from her kids was positive. “They loved it. They would always say, ‘We finished, can you send another?’ letting me know when they were ready for the next one,” Liz said.

Liz didn’t finish all the books they started during deployment, so she finished them after returning home during their bedtime routine. She even took her daughter to see a Ramona play since that became her new favorite book character, thanks to her mom’s recordings.